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Billie Eilish and 8 Climate Activists Get Real About Our Planet

MJZ, Los Angeles / VOGUE / 2023







Billie Eilish has a track record on climate justice, including famously securing a guarantee from Oscar de la Renta’s creative directors, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim, to stop selling fur when she wore their design to her first Met Gala in 2021, which she co-chaired. Yet, in spite of her well-known advocacy, Eilish is mindful in her approach. “I’ve spent all of my effort trying not to be in people’s faces about it … [b]ecause people don’t respond well to that. It makes the causes that you believe in look back, because you’re, like, annoying the shit out of everybody.” For Eilish’s January 2023 Vogue digital cover, director Mike Mills needed to creatively solve for Eilish’s requirement that the piece compellingly advance her commitment to the environment while balancing the magazine’s need for audience engagement, readership, and thematic focus on fashion, all on a shoestring budget.


Through a series of concert dates last year at London’s O2 arena, Billie Eilish staged a simultaneous six-day climate-awareness event called Overheated, named after a song from her last album. For her Vogue January cover, Eilish eagerly wanted to organize a similar event, inviting a few of the speakers from Overheated to join her and a small handful of other young activists in this mini-summit. The digital cover is as much about promoting Vogue as it is about advancing Eilish’s greater goal of saving the planet. As one of the Overheated speakers also featured in Eilish’s January cover, Tori Tsui describes what Eilish has done and is doing as a Trojan horse, using her celebrity “to draw an audience who knows about the climate crisis but isn’t yet fully engaged … [and] then to use that to shed light on some of the issues that don’t get as much attention”.


Billie Eilish wanted to use the unique platform offered to her by Vogue’s digital cover to sensitively bring awareness to the global climate issue and those leading the charge. “I don’t want to be parading around like, Look at me! I’m making a difference,” she says. “I just want to be making the difference and shutting the fuck up about it.” True to her word, Eilish shifts the spotlight to the eight young activists handpicked for this conversation – Ryan Berberet, Tori Tsui, Isaias Hernandez (known to his followers as Queer Brown Vegan), Quannah Chasinghorse, Xiye Bastida, Maya Penn, Nalleli Cobo, and Wanjiku “Wawa” Gatheru. Against an abstract, clean, simple space and dressed in environmentally conscious designers, the activists talk to each other about their work and their lives, and how all of this affects them on a personal and emotional level. Sometimes Eilish is with them, sometimes not.


The team undertook a nationwide search for climate activists that were of Billie's generation but also largely BIPOC young women. It was key to find activists that were contemporaries of Billie, but who also were very self-possessed and accomplished, and could speak persuasively about the issues at hand in conversation with a global superstar, in front of cameras – while being styled in new, sustainable fashion by Vogue's stylists!


Vogue’s January 2023 digital cover and video not only made headlines in fashion, but also beyond, including in mainstream media outlets like “Good Morning America." Even the Balmain corset that Eilish wore in the video got its own writeup. To date, the posts on Vogue’s Instagram page have garnered a collective 448,844 likes and thousands of comments, the video posted to the magazine’s YouTube have over 292,000 views, with approximately 20,000 likes and over 700 comments. On Billie Eilish’s Twitter page, the video has been viewed over 900,000 times with over 2,500 retweets and ~24,000 likes. The public response has been exceedingly positive. Fans comments include, “This has got Mike Mills written all over it and I love it!!!” and “okay but this was actually one of the times when Vogue made use of their impact and influence for a positive reason, love it<33”.

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